Effective communication with work colleagues is one of the most valuable skills you can possess. Highly successfuly managers rely on their communication skills to articulate strategic decisions to their staff, motivate them to achieve common goals, and resolve workplace issues to name just a few. Without proficient communication skills, there will be staff members who are unclear of their roles and responsibilities, and the best-laid plans could come unstuck right from the start.
However, by understanding the barriers to effective communication that we consciously and subconsciously erect, you can smash them down to ensure your message is getting through loud and clear. Doing this will open up the lines of communication across all levels of the company, and business operations will run far more efficiently. Chris Smith, the founder of Opin, a Canadian company that specialise in planning, deploying and supporting companies who use open source content management software Drupal, has written a free guide called The Seven Barriers to Communication. It breaks down the reasons why there’s obstruction in communication in the workplace, examples of each barrier, and to overcome them.
Open plan building designs are attractive as they allow colleagues to communicate quickly and efficiently. The moment you shut the door to your office, create distance between people or erect walls that divide your staff, you are creating physical barriers to effective communication. Sometimes these obstacles are unavoidable, such as companies that have offices in different locations, but there are solutions such as video technology and other advancements that can alleviate these hurdles.
While physical barriers are easy to see, perceptual barriers are those you erect in your mind. The way you communicate could be affected by preconceived ideas, your typical behaviour patterns or misunderstood body language. You must keep an open mind when talking, be interested in the conversation, and clearly articulate your message so any negative assumptions made about you by others will fade away.
Self-confidence plays an enormous role in breaking down psychological barriers. By having an in-depth understanding of the information you’re sharing with others, you will be able to deliver it with clarity. This knowledge increases the probability that those receiving the information will understand it and be able to act on it. However, sometimes our emotions take over when communicating with others, and feelings such as anger, pride and anxiety can cloud our judgment and prevent great communication. Emotional intelligence is an incredibly important skill to learn if you want to be seen as a leader within your organisation, and being able to keep your emotions, and the emotions of those around you in check will lead to a more highly efficient team.
Modern business is conducted in a global community, whether it’s the mix of staff in the workplace, or working with colleagues, suppliers, and retailers in other parts of the world. By understanding cultural sensitivities of any business stakeholder, and respecting their values and beliefs, cultural barriers can be removed from the process. Respect is the key, at times, you will have to adapt to others while other occasions people joining your organisation will have to adjust. By identifying cultural differences and developing strategies to accommodate them, you are far more likely to enjoy more exceptional communication in your business.
Communicating with people whose native language is not English can pose problems. However, it’s not the only language issue businesses face. The way people speak is different from each generation, speech impediments can cause comprehension issues, and industry specific language may be difficult to understand for someone unaccustomed to it. Utilising common sense strategies such as translation services, learning the basics of the foreign language, and using multiple methods of communication such as video can overcome these language barriers.
Men and women are different, and while workplace relations between genders have improved astronomically over recent years, there are times when communications break down for one reason or another. Communication styles between genders are often different, which could cause problems between work colleagues, so it’s important to be respectful of each other. Effective communication can only be achieved between genders if everyone feels safe when offering their ideas and opinions.
Poor self-esteem or an inability to make connections with others can prohibit us from actually communicating with our colleagues. This challenge can lead to withdrawal from the business dynamic, keeping your opinions and ideas to yourself and removing yourself from the workplace community. And because forcing yourself to communicate with others is the best way to overcome this barrier, it can be tough to break. Taking small steps by keeping your communications simple, listening to others and staying calm, will build self-confidence over time.
Removing Communication Barriers
Some people are natural communicators while others have to work on their skills. However, the key to success is the constant pursuit of self-improvement. Everyone can get better at being an exceptional communicator, and it’s rare that people are easily able to break down all seven of the barriers to effective communication outlined above.
For example, an 8-day Neuro Linguistic Programming Course can unlock your barriers to great communication so you can become the most efficient self-possible. Upon completion you’ll be able to control your emotions in any situation, communicate well with significant people in your professional and personal lives, influence others when sharing your messages, and ask the right questions so you can get the answers you desire.